Love Lis NZ: Turning a passion for painting into a thriving online business

Storbie Success Stories take a deep-dive into the businesses and the people selling online with Storbie. Learn how they achieved success, get inspiration for your online business and top marketing advice from online store owners who know their stuff!

We spoke to Lisa Robertson from Love Lis NZ, an online store selling fine art prints. Lisa shares some valuable insights for new business owners, read on to find out:

  • How to successfully manage your days working from home and achieve your ideal work/life balance
  • The importance of building up a customer database for email marketing
  • How you can make Facebook marketing work for you
  • The importance of planning, research and epic customer service
  • Lisa’s advice for you if you’re thinking about turning your passion into a career

Where it all began for Love Lis

When you strip back everything to the beginning, my story essentially started with injury! I had a great photography business with fabulous clients, which I loved. It all came to an abrupt and unforeseen end when I injured my knee – the length of time involved in several surgeries and recoveries somehow found me closing the door on one chapter of my life – photography – and launching myself into another one!

Somehow, for me, this new chapter is a far more perfect fit and is everything I could have ever dreamed of. I was the kid who wanted to grow up and paint… and now I paint!

“It is a huge blessing to be able to make a living off something you create yourself – to do something with your own hands”.

I predominantly paint animals and I especially love our native New Zealand birds. Love Lis NZ has been roaring away from strength to strength over the last 3 years, and my fine art prints have now gone to all corners of New Zealand and across the globe.

I also sell posters, colouring books, original paintings, t-shirts and each year I do a ‘Love Lis NZ calendar’. The calendars are just massive – it is so hugely humbling to see how loved these have been each year!

It is a huge blessing to be able to make a living off something you create yourself – to do something with your own hands. Love Lis NZ is completely run by me from start to finish. I am completely set up at home to print my own archival fine art prints – I prefer to print my own fine art prints as I am able to maintain full control over quality and colour reproduction. The few things that are outsourced (like calendars and packaging products) are all sorted through other awesome NZ businesses.

The secret to a happy life: Love what you do

Loving what you do is absolutely fundamental to your well-being – I truly believe this. I start the day excited and I finish it happy, sometimes in track-pants and without brushing my hair – I don’t have to tone the ‘quirky’ down to represent anyone else’s company – major bonus to being predominantly web-based!

I love every aspect of Love Lis NZ, from painting and drawing when it suits me (which is often), to printing, packing, shipping, managing my website, dealing with customers, and managing the marketing via Facebook.

I get to work for myself, for the best people… because my customers are all amazing! I get such great feedback from my customers, and it’s always so great seeing their photos of Love Lis prints in their homes. I’ve never not loved a day of it. It’s happy life stuff.

Why Lisa’s customers make all the hard work worthwhile!

My customers are the BEST. I don’t really care much for impressing the ‘art scene’. I have absolutely nothing against it and I’m not rebelling – it’s just not my place in the world. I am more interested in doing my own thing, and I love making art for the regular Kiwi home; affordable art for everyday people.

I love hearing the stories from my customers of why an artwork of mine has such meaning for them, how much their children love the animals on their walls or how well received a gift was. The beautiful feedback I get makes it all worthwhile for me.

My customers are predominantly women across all age groups and a few husbands here and there who have had some big hints as to what their wives want for their birthday or Christmas. My customers are such beautiful people!! I adore them!

The growth phase: Facebook marketing and making the shift to Storbie

Initially I started Love Lis NZ via a Facebook business page – no website. It grew. Fast. The number of followers and print requests rose and it became apparent that this could actually be a viable business.

I sat down and I planned it properly. My husband and friends encouraged me to pursue the idea. Where I had any doubts, I put those aside, relied on their confidence to carry me through and here we are!

Taking orders and sales via Facebook quickly became impractical and I engaged the services of a popular off-shore web host. Some of the larger companies overseas make it so easy to get a website up and running, but the fees and charges can easily make it an expensive task. A crazy expensive task… especially in US dollars!

Over a year ago, I shifted my website to Storbie here in NZ and have never looked back. I do all my marketing via Facebook and my mailing list. It works!!

RELATED: Easily report on conversions, optimise your adverts for success and build website custom audiences for remarketing with the Facebook pixel integration for your online store.

Why it’s important to celebrate successes and milestones

Oddly enough, today 3 years ago I started working on the very first painting that launched the very idea of Love Lis – the doe! It’s just amazing to think that I was painting this for myself 3 years ago with no idea of where she would lead… it was only a matter of a week or so later that the concept of continuing to paint and selling fine art prints developed. The doe is super special to me for this reason.

It has been absolutely humbling to see how Love Lis has gone from strength to strength over the last 3 years… I never looked this far ahead back then, so it is epic to look back now! I am thinking Friday night drinks tonight may be a great way to celebrate!! (And we did!)

What Lisa’s typical day working from home looks like

I’m up pretty early most mornings. I start with coffee. Always. Then the laptop is open and Storbie tells me what orders I need to sort. Ideally if I can manage to get all outstanding orders printed, signed, packed and ready for the courier before I have to get the kids to school, I’m happy.

I really love to get the orders out of the way early so I can spend lots of time painting/ dreaming/ researching/ thinking… and then I don’t miss the courier when he calls in either.

That sounds like I have everything done before the school run, but it’s not really the case… I spend a lot of time planning ahead, doing admin, reading about animals I am thinking of painting, and I am really nerdy with my goal setting. I print orders as they come in during the day too, ready for the courier the next morning.

The way I plan my day allows me to be flexible when my family need me which is a real gift in terms of work/ family balance.

I update and manage my website on a daily basis. It’s not just about order processing which is nice and easy, but also updating products, sales, and general housekeeping – gotta keep it fresh!

“Your website is vitally important, but it won’t drive itself until you are really well established, so you need to get your marketing game strong and you need to build a great customer base”.

RELATED: Build a loyal customer database and drive your marketing: Get your customers to opt in to emails during the checkout process.

Between Storbie, Facebook and email, the rest of my business is very manual and paper based. I draw, I paint, I write things down. I go through several journals a year with notes and ideas and research!

Lisa’s top recommendations for new store owners and others thinking of turning their passion into a career

Storbie are fantastic to deal with so if you have questions just ask them and if you are thinking of giving them a go – I say YES do it! The Storbie platform is super easy to use once you find your way around it and will be a reliable backbone of your business!

Your website is vitally important, but it won’t drive itself until you are really well established, so you need to get your marketing game strong and you need to build a great customer base – your website is the cherry on the top of these things!

RELATED: Marketing ideas to promote your new online store.

Research lots. You can’t just look at someone else’s business model and think it will work for you – no one else can give you all the answers – you have to research hard and work out ‘your’ model.

The only way ahead is via EPIC customer service. If you really truly love what you are doing then throw yourself in boots and all and make it a reality!! It’ll be worth it!

Lis x

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